Class of 2020
Kathryn A. grew up in Willoughby, Ohio, where she graduated from Willoughby South High School in 2002. She was a member of the Key Club and the National Honor Society.
Kathryn went on to study journalism at Ohio University and earned the opportunity to study abroad in Australia. In 2006, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in journalism, after which she spent a year volunteering with AmeriCorps. Kathryn became licensed in the financial industry and spent six years in sales.
Unfulfilled by her sales career, she began working with the Cleveland Clinic. Initially, she served as an emergency room registrant, but over the course of several years Kathryn developed a strong passion for medicine. She transitioned into the role of clinical technician and fell in love with patient care.
Kathryn has spent five years working in the emergency department and feels it is a privilege to serve patients. Knowing the pivotal role health care providers play in shaping the future of patients’ lives gives Kathryn a sense of purpose. Upon graduation, Kathryn would like to assist with trauma surgeries in an emergency department.
In her spare time, Kathryn enjoys going to see live music, being outdoors and spending time with her husband and their three children.
Rachael B. was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio, where she graduated from Clearview High School in the top five of the Class of 2013. There, she participated in many extracurricular activities including one of her favorite hobbies, volleyball.
Rachael then attended Lorain County Community College, where she continued her volleyball career and worked as a biology tutor and student aid. At that time, she discovered her love for coaching.
After obtaining associate’s degrees with honors in both science and art, Rachael continued her education at the University of Mount Union. There, she participated in Greek life and the Association of Pre-Physician Assistant students, was a research assistant, collected many volunteer hours and began shadowing PAs. In 2017, she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a minor in French.
Tyrone B. grew up with his parents and younger brother in Geneva, Ohio, where he graduated from Geneva High School with honors in 2013. Tyrone spent his next four years at Baldwin Wallace University (BWU) as a student-athlete and graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.
At BWU, Tyrone played four years of football for the Yellow Jackets and was a two-time inductee of the National College Athlete Honor Society. Along with being a student-athlete, he was an active member of the Pre-PA Club and volunteered for local organizations such as Adoption Network Cleveland, Ohio Guidestone and Special Olympics.
After graduating, Tyrone returned to Ashtabula County to work as a patient care nursing assistant (PCNA) on a medical-surgical floor at Ashtabula County Medical Center, where he spent a year caring for patients in his community.
In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, working out and supporting his Cleveland sports teams.
Yvonne D. grew up in Northampton, Pennsylvania, where she graduated from Northampton Area High School with honors in 2013. In 2017, she graduated cum laude from West Chester University of PA with a bachelor’s degree in biology.
During her undergraduate career, Yvonne was a member of Pre-Med Club and Microbiology Club and a sister of Phi Mu sorority. As a sister of Phi Mu, Yvonne participated in fundraisers and bake sales, raising money for their philanthropy recipient, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Yvonne’s interest in health care began the summer following her sophomore year in high school. She dedicated her summers to volunteering at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) in various departments including pediatric rehabilitation and emergency medicine. Her positive experiences and exposure to different departments prompted her to take a position as a nurse’s aide at LVHN’s inpatient rehabilitation center after college. As a nurse’s aide, Yvonne met diverse patients from all walks of life.
Combined with opportunities to shadow PAs in various specialties, her time at LVHN confirmed her aspirations to become a physician assistant. Yvonne hopes to impact the lives of many in medically underserved areas as a health care provider.
Zach G. is from Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating from Stephen T. Badin High School in 2014, he attended the University of Toledo (UT). Zach graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science in 2018.
During his time at (UT), he participated in the Lambda Sigma National Honor Society and the Christian Leadership Program. He was named Phi Kappa Psi’s Balanced Man and Emerging Leader and won the Outstanding Service Program Award for his projects on campus.
Zach was also heavily involved with the surrounding community during his collegiate career. He directed a citywide service event known as “Big Event” and a non-profit called “Walk for Water” that fundraised money to install water purification units in developing countries. Zach eventually took his love of service abroad, traveling to Nicaragua with the Global Medical Brigades for a medical mission trip. Beyond that, Zach spent two years as a medical scribe in an emergency department, working at three hospitals in the Toledo area. He also obtained his Eagle Scout, logging over 1,000 hours for his final project.
When Zach isn’t studying, he enjoys going to the gym, falling asleep in hammocks and discovering new music on Spotify.
Ashley H. was born and raised in Lake County, Ohio, where she graduated from Perry High School in 2013. While in high school, Ashley attended Lake Erie College as part of a post-secondary education program, and she was able to complete the majority of her undergraduate general education courses. In 2017, Ashley earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and an Associate of Arts degree in gerontology from Thomas More College.
As an undergraduate student, Ashley worked at CVS Pharmacy as a pharmacy technician and volunteered to care for the Benedictine Sisters of Covington, Kentucky at St. Walburg Monastery Infirmary as a nurse aide. Outside of work and school, Ashley enjoys hiking at local parks, hunting and fishing with her boyfriend and spending quality time with her friends and family.
Derek H. grew up in Rochester, Minnesota. He graduated from John Marshall High School as one of the top five students in the Class of 2009. He was a student-athlete and pitched on the state championship-winning baseball team.
Derek continued to play baseball in college at Iowa Central Community College; however, an injury cut his baseball career short. He then decided to finish school at the University of North Dakota and begin working towards a career in the medical field. Derek graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in biology. After college, Derek worked as a medical scribe at Allina Health in Minneapolis, where he discovered his interest in the Physician Assistant profession.
Derek’s wife Kate is an elementary school teacher. They enjoy spending time with their golden retriever puppy, spending time on the lake, going for walks and watching movies.
Rebecca J. was raised in Concord, Ohio and graduated from Riverside High School in 2012. Her early passion for science and medicine led her to the University of Dayton, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medical studies in 2016.
While at UD, Rebecca was a tutor for several chemistry classes and volunteered often at local health clinics in the Dayton area. During her senior year, she traveled to Nicaragua as a member of a medical and public health brigade, an organization of students and physicians providing services for villages without easy access to health care.
After graduation, she worked as a patient care associate (PCA) at Lake West Hospital. Aside from offering hands-on experience, being a PCA gave Rebecca a better understanding of what it takes to give quality care to patients from a provider perspective. Her passionate and loving nature fuels her drive to positively impact those around her.
In her free time, Rebecca enjoys board games, cooking, and exploring the local Metroparks with family and friends.
Jim K. grew up in a small town near St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from high school in 1994, and, shortly thereafter, decided to join the United States Navy to become a Navy hospital corpsman. After completing boot camp, Jim attended Hospital Corps School in Great Lakes, Illinois and Field Medical Service School at Camp Johnson in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
In 1996, he was stationed with Ambulance Division at the Naval Hospital in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he provided prehospital emergency care to both active duty Navy/Marine Corps service members and their dependents. During his time in Ambulance Division, Jim received additional emergency medical training, earning his NREMT-B, ACLS, PALS and NRP certifications, as well as attending the Mountain/Cold Weather Survival Medicine Certification Course at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California.
In 1999, Jim received orders to the Naval Hospital in Sigonella, Sicily where he was placed in the Emergency Department and tasked with providing emergency care to active duty service members, their dependents, and local nationals working on base. After earning the role of leading petty officer for the Emergency Department, he became highly active in the Naval Hospital’s Education and Training Department, becoming the lead instructor for the NREMT-B Program and earning instructor certifications in ACLS, PALS, PHTLS, ABLS, and BLS.
Jim decided to leave the military and pursue a career in medical management in 2002. He attended Old Dominion University majoring in Finance and minoring in Management. After earning his degree, he began his civilian, health care management career as an office manager for three internal medicine clinics. In 2012, Jim and his family relocated to Ohio, where he managed both fixed and mobile blood banking operations. However, it wasn’t long before he realized his true passion was working directly with patients, which is what motivated him to apply to the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program. In his free time, Jim enjoys spending time with his family and friends.
Erin K. was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where she lives with her parents and two siblings. She graduated from St. Joseph Academy High School in 2013 and went on to attend Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Erin graduated magna cum laude from BGSU with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2017.
After obtaining her degree, Erin began working as a patient care nursing assistant (PCNA) at the Cleveland Clinic on an internal medicine floor. Working as a PCNA further solidified her desire to work in the medical field.
In her free time, Erin enjoys playing basketball, rooting for Cleveland sports teams, jet skiing and spending time with family and friends.
Connor K. grew up in Orrville, Ohio with his parents and twin sister. As a kid, he was inspired by the warm and friendly persona of his family physician, who sparked his interest in the medical field. In 2014, Connor graduated from Orrville High School and enrolled at Kent State University the following fall majoring in exercise science.
Connor shadowed various health care professions and found his passion in becoming a physician assistant. He began to shadow many physician assistants in varying specialties and spoke with his cousin, who is a physician assistant.
He also participated in a research experiment involving microbial studies of cyanotoxin degrading bacteria found in different fresh water sludge. In summer of 2018, Connor had the opportunity to intern with the University of Tennessee Medical Center while observing physician assistants and other medical professionals.
When Connor is not studying he enjoys spending time outside exploring and attending concerts and sporting events. He also has a passion for cooking and staying active while enjoying spending time with family and friends.
Emily M. is from Hudson, Ohio and attended The Andrews School in Willoughby, Ohio. In 2015, she graduated from Bridgewater College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in health & exercise science and Spanish.
During her undergraduate career, Emily worked as a tutor in the Spanish department and was a member of the Equestrian Team. She volunteered at a local community center and an afterschool program for English-language learners.
After graduation, Emily received her license as a state tested nurse aide and began working at a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Twinsburg, Ohio. She gained hands-on experience in health care as well as a passion for helping patients.
To further her understanding of the PA profession, she began shadowing physician assistants at the Cleveland Clinic in cardiothoracic surgery and at the hospital’s migraine clinic. Emily is interested in family medicine and functional medicine.
Her hobbies include hiking with her dog, yoga, reading and plant-based cooking.
Freddie M. was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and raised in Erlanger, Kentucky. He is the youngest of 12 children and the only fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to attend college. He attended Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated with honors in 2016, earning a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with minors in chemistry and Spanish.
Throughout college, Freddie shadowed a physician assistant at Christ Hospital where his interest in cardiac surgery arose. After obtaining his degree, he worked as a microbiologist, but his health care aspirations led him to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). He went on to work as a CNA in the Transitional Care Unit at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. His time working as a CNA further solidified his passion for helping others in need.
In his free time, Freddie enjoys boxing, dancing and traveling.
Kayla M. grew up in Hartsgrove, Ohio with her parents Chris and Chrisy and her older sister Alyssa. She enjoyed raising animals for 4-H and participating in choir, cheerleading and softball. In 2011, she graduated from Grand Valley High School where she was named valedictorian. Kayla attended Lakeland Community college before transferring to Case Western Reserve University, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Medical Anthropology in 2016.
During her undergraduate career, she worked as a nurse’s aide in long term care before going to the Sisters of Notre Dame to take care of retired religious sisters. She has shadowed physicians and physician assistants in many different specialties, which solidified her desire to provide quality, patient-centered care.
Kayla takes great pride in her education. As a first-generation college student and a young mother, she realizes that hard work and determination are the keys to success. Her true blessings and inspiration in life are her sons Joseph and Leo and her husband and partner of twelve years Brody.
She is excited to pursue her dream of providing quality medical care to the people of her community.
Mikaela M. was born and raised in Richmond Heights on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio. She first found her passion for the medical field in high school, and she was able to participate in several internships at the Cleveland Clinic to hone this passion into the desire to be a physician assistant. In 2013, Mikaela enrolled at the University of Akron and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2016.
During her undergraduate career, Mikaela was heavily involved in Campus Focus, the college ministry based out of a local church, the Chapel. After graduation, Mikaela decided to join the Campus Focus staff and served as an intern for two years. During her internship, Mikaela also began working as a patient care nursing assistant (PCNA) at the Cleveland Clinic as a way of building and refining her knowledge of the medical field and patient care.
Outside of medicine, her passions include ministry, listening to and creating music, enjoying the outdoors and rock climbing.
Nikki M. grew up with her dad and older sister in Medina, Ohio, where she graduated from Highland High school in 2014. She attended the University of Cincinnati (UC) and graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in health sciences and a minor in psychology.
At UC, she was vice president of Membership and of Philanthropy for Pi Beta Phi, an international women’s fraternity. Throughout her undergraduate career, she participated in a diverse array of service activities, including two service trips to Nicaragua, where she served as the trip leader, and summer camp counseling for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. These activities motivated her to seek a specialization in pediatrics.
In her free time, Nikki enjoys volunteering as a Special Olympics gymnastic coach, traveling, spending time outside and being with her family.
Jordan O. was born and raised in Mentor, Ohio, where she graduated from Mentor High School in 2013. Throughout high school, Jordan spent time volunteering in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These experiences led her to pursue a career in health care.
Jordan attended Ohio University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology with a minor in biology. During her undergraduate career, Jordan worked as the head research assistant in the Exercise Physiology Lab and traveled to several ACSM conferences to present research findings.
She worked closely with clinical exercise physiologists, dieticians, and nurses at Heartworks, a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program and joint effort of Ohio University and OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital. Following graduation, she began working as an Emergency Room technician/secretary at Lake Health Tripoint Medical Center. Working alongside physician assistants in the emergency room further solidified her desire to become a PA.
Amal R. grew up in Toledo, Ohio with her parents and two sisters. In 2014, she graduated as an International Baccalaureate student with honors from Notre Dame Academy. Three years later, she graduated cum laude from the University of Toledo with a Bachelor of Science in biology and a minor in chemistry.
At the University of Toledo, Amal volunteered with local organizations including International Justice Mission, Butterflies 15 and the Salvation Army. She also served as a lead scribe at the Toledo Clinic in order to further her understanding of the medical field. There she worked in many fields, including neurology, pulmonary, family practice, internal medicine, and with a sleep specialist. Amal had the opportunity to shadow a physician assistant, an experience through which she gained a better understanding of her role as a health care provider.
In her free time, Amal enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends and family.
Maddie S. grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, with her parents and three older sisters. She graduated from Walsh Jesuit High School in the top ten percent of her class. While in high school, Maddie played four years of varsity basketball and softball, eventually earning the role of team captain in both sports her senior year. Maddie then went on to attend the University of Akron, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in natural sciences with a minor in chemistry. She graduated with summa cum laude distinction.
Maddie has worked as a medical scribe in an office of internal medicine and spent time shadowing physician assistants. In addition, she has conducted research into methods of reducing the rising infant mortality rates in Northeast Ohio. These experiences reaffirmed her love of the medical field and her desire to become a PA.
In her spare time, Maddie enjoys being active, playing with her dog, spending time with her friends and family, and cheering on the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers. She volunteers with the Little Love Bugs Rescue organization, which focuses on rescuing dogs and cats and helping find them new, loving homes.
Alexis S. was born in Canton, Ohio but lived near Pittsburgh for many years. She graduated from Canon-McMillan School District in 2013 and enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree with a major in Biological Sciences and minors in Chemistry and Exercise Science.
During her time at Pitt, Alexis became involved in academic and leadership organizations such as the Pre-PA Association. Additionally, she worked for campus recreation as a studio cycling instructor, administrative office worker and fitness center attendant.
Over the past several years, Alexis has been heavily active in the UPMC community. She volunteered at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and worked at UPMC Senior Communities as well as Presbyterian and Mercy Hospitals. Following her graduation in April 2017, Alexis further pursued her goal of becoming a physician assistant as a full time medical assistant at a UPMC Rheumatology office in Bethel Park.
In her free time, she likes to vacation, ski, bicycle, exercise, and spend time with her friends, family, and dog. All of the roles Alexis has assumed in her journey to becoming a physician assistant have proven to her that she has chosen the right path for her future.
Mara S. was born and raised in Elmira, New York, where she lived with her parents John and Catherine and her brother Michael. She graduated from Niagara University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.
At Niagara, Mara was a member of the track and field team and captained during her final season. She was also a member of the TriBeta National Biological Honor Society and biology club. As a student-athlete, she participated in volunteer projects such as the Buffalo Marathon and the Niagara Falls Sandals Project and helped the clients of a homeless shelter and a soup kitchen.
In her senior year, Mara shadowed a physician assistant at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center’s Emergency Department and, during college breaks, volunteered at the Arnot Ogden Medical Center, a hospital in her hometown. After graduating, Mara traveled to Nicaragua for a medical mission trip where she assisted local physicians in setting up and hosting medical clinics across the country and conducted public health home visits. She then became certified in phlebotomy at Trocaire College and worked as a pharmacy technician.
Outside of her studies, Mara enjoys running, traveling, hiking and spending time with her family and friends.
Erica S. grew up with her parents, brother and sister in Binghamton, New York, where she graduated from Chenango Forks High School in 2008. Erica then obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from SUNY Oneonta in 2012.
During her undergraduate career, she was involved in Pre-health Club, the Center for Social Responsibility and Colleges Against Cancer, and she served as event co-chair for Relay for Life. She also worked in a group home with children on the autism spectrum during this time.
In 2013, Erica moved to Cleveland, Ohio to be closer to her sister. She began working at Bellefaire JCB, a residential center for children and adolescents with autism, and she is a nanny to a special little girl.
She went back to school at Cleveland State University in 2015 with the intention of completing the prerequisites to enroll in an occupational therapy program. She had the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant in the gross anatomy lab at CSU, where she realized she wanted to take a different path in health care.
Erica shadowed multiple physician assistants and has been a volunteer for the Cleveland Clinic for the one year. In 2018, she graduated from CSU as a post-baccalaureate student with her Bachelor of Science degree in health sciences.
In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading and enjoying the outdoors.
Tara T. grew up in Independence, Ohio, where graduated cum laude from Independence High School in 2013 with hopes of pursuing a profession in the medical field. Following her ambition, she graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a minor in psychology from Ohio University.
At Ohio University, Tara participated in a study abroad program where she was exposed to prevalent health issues in Botswana, Africa. Additionally, she volunteered for one year in the Emergency Department at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital where she learned in depth the role of physician assistants. Tara also spent one and a half years as a research assistant analyzing different oncogenic backgrounds in the Drosophila melanogaster compound eye in a PACE Apprenticeship program. She presented her experimental findings at the Student Expo Fair and explained her senior thesis, based on her laboratory work.
Tara served as teaching assistant for an Ecology/Evolution lab, as well as remaining an active member of AMSA pre-med club, Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, Arabic Language Student Association, and Pre-physician Assistant Club. After graduating from Ohio University, Tara obtained two simultaneous positions as an ED scribe at University Hospital and an STNA at Seven Hills Rehabilitation Center, later transferring to MetroHealth Hospital on their sub-acute care unit.
She is excited to further utilize her compassion for patients and the medical field.
Nirali V. was born and raised in India and moved to the United States in June 2014 along with her parents and a younger brother. Nirali completed high school in India and started her college career at Cuyahoga Community College, where she graduated with an Associate of Science degree in May 2016. She then transferred to Cleveland State University to complete her Bachelor of Health Science degree with a focus on pre-physician assistant.
At Tri-C, Nirali worked as a student ambassador helping first-year students adjust to the college environment. In her undergraduate career, she was active in the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and Tau Sigma Honors Society.
Nirali shadowed a physician from whom she learned more about the physician assistant profession, which sparked her interest. She volunteered at Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital to serve the community and worked as medical scribe for nearly two years. She loved working with patients as a scribe, and the physician supported her desire of becoming a physician assistant on a daily basis
She is very grateful to her family, friends and professors for their motivation and endless support. Nirali is happy and excited to stay in Ohio and close to her family.
Lia W. grew up in Green, Ohio. In 2012, she graduated cum laude with a degree in human occupation studies from Xavier University. After graduation, she provided one-on-one patient care to people with special needs. She now works as a surgical assistant at an oral surgery practice.
Lia is passionate about volunteering to serve international communities with medical assistance. Most recently, she completed a mission trip to Ecuador where she helped serve a local community and establish a free medical clinic.
Her personal hobbies include playing the violin, instructing yoga classes and spending time outdoors.
Tayler W. grew up with her sister and mother in DuBois, Pennsylvania, where she graduated from DuBois Area High School in 2012. She then attended Lock Haven University, graduating with honors, with a Bachelor of Science degree in health sciences and a minor in psychology in 2016.
Tayler was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during her junior year of college. This diagnosis strengthened her aspiration to become a physician assistant and gave her empathy for her future patients. She has gained experience by shadowing several physician assistants in pediatrics, primary care and neurology. Tayler also worked one-on-one with an individual with developmental disabilities and as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a local nursing home.
In her free time, Tayler enjoys camping, going to concerts, four-wheeling, amusement parks and spending quality time with family and friends.